What are SoulBonds? Where do they come from? For those who look at SoulBonding on a superficial level, the answer seems simple; they're in your imagination. The SoulBond is the "next step up" from the imaginary friend, an adult playmate for those who have no other, for the lonely, the disillusioned, the overcreative who have nothing else to channel their energies into. But to anyone who SoulBonds themselves, such a simple answer can't explain the uniqueness of these people that share the mind and body, who live their own lives, speak their own thoughts.
One theory that once used to be popular, and probably originated from the old Multiple Personality Disorder idea (or else was just suggested because it seems simple and obvious), is that a SoulBond is just you personifying a part of you which you refuse to acknowledge or which might need an outlet. An angry SB, for example, may represent repressed anger, or be a sign that you need to learn to express yourself more in that regard. A related theory is that SBs correspond to parts of ourselves, so that one SB may be a personification of our studious side, another our playful side, etc. This oversimplistic theory, needless to say, holds little truck wth most genuine SBers and their SBs, who feel insulted that they should be classified as "personality fragments" or Freudian symbols of repression. There are some genuine cases where an SB has come along almost solely to help the SBer in some way, to force them to accept something about themselves that they couldn't before, and then simply faded back into the two-dimensional blackness.
But this, while a possibility, really does represent only a small minority, and doesn't possibly begin to explain the breadth and depth of emotional connections that SoulBonders can experience. There are also cases where an SB will be a reflection of some part of yourself - not a cardboard-cutout "avatar" for some small, stereotyped section of your personality, but someone who arrives because they are drawn to a particular part of you or because a particular part of you attaches to and finds empathy in them. But this is really no different than the way any other two people are drawn together in life - because they share commonalities. It's not unusual for the people in your social circle to reflect various aspects of your own personality, and it's the same for SoulBonds. But this still goes no further towards explaining their origins.
Next, the scientific tack. While I've never heard this quoted elsewhere, the idea did occur to me that the personalities of SoulBonds could be considered a sort of "neural set", created by overly dwelling on that person or character and imagining how they'd interact with the world, to the extent where the pathways representing those personality traits are formed in the mind. It's true that, since presumably all are using the same brain, SoulBonds will have their own oft-used neural pathways within it just as we do - the ones that tell Kirika to curl up and hug herself when she feels cold and alone, for example, or tell her hearing to sharpen and her eyes to dart at the slightest suggestion of activity outside her peripheral vision. We've actually had experiences ourselves which seem to suggest this possibility - when another person fronts after one person has been fronting for a long time, it sometimes takes them a while to "kick in" and start thinking and behaving in their own way, as opposed to adopting the mannerisms and habits of the previous person. For example, after Kirika has been fronting for a while, traces of her body language will often remain for a short period, and I might find myself slipping into using a slightly higher, softer voice or reflexively uttering Japanese (and no, that's not actually something I do as a matter of course. I will consciously say things in Japanese to sound "cool", I admit it, but I don't slip into it naturally in the way I would if it was my mother tongue).
However, to say that SoulBonds are
a set of neural pathways is to ignore the fact that surely some force, energy or spirit must be using
these pathways to create the impression of a SoulBond? If we say that we are using the pathways ourselves, how can we simultaneously be being Kirika and being ourselves? That's only to use a two-person example - there are often at least one or two others hovering around frontspace who'll come if you call, and then of course you've got the peanut gallery - the miscellaneous background gathering who'll occasionally chuck out suggestions and comments. It's not that busy for everyone, and it's not like that for us all of the time, but it happens, and to explain it as having a lot of extra neural pathways doesn't really work. Surely you'd only use some at a time, as and when needed? And surely your various neural sets don't talk to you and go off and live lives independently of each other, and have completely different personalities, likes and dislikes, or sit on your shoulder like the 50's cartoon angel and devil consciences saying "I think we should do this right about now"? Does the psychology-studying part of your brain start carrying out chi-square tests on nominal data while you're trying to watch a movie? Maybe if you're thinking obsessively about an up-and-coming assignment, but does it do this of its own accord? Separately from you? While still allowing you yourself to watch the movie (relatively) without distraction? And similarly, how can people talk to their SBs after an extended period of time away and find that things have happened in their lives, that they've been off in whatever world they normally live in doing all sorts of things, that while you've not been paying attention they have continued to exist, not simply powered off and lain lifeless like a computer on standby? True, this isn't the case for all SBs and all SBers, but it's the case often enough that it can't be dismissed. For that, there'd have to be several separate sources of energy within the body to use those different portions of the brain independently. Several spirits. Several souls. Several people.
Which brings us to the idea that SoulBonding is about more than one spirit, thread, strand of "person-stuff" within a single body (and of course for many, it's more than strands). And this in turn brings us to the two most prevalent theories of SoulBonding, which deal with where these souls originate from and how they get into the body.
In many natural multiple systems, the "gateway" or "portal" system is often spoken of. This is the idea of the body as a portal to other worlds/dimensions/planes/existences; that somehow, it is possible for an Earthly person's mind, body and/or soul to "connect" with these places, usually without knowing it, and for people to then enter the body through such a portal. This has much in common with traditional (pre-psychology) theories of multiplicity, such as possession and channeling spirits (in former times, shamans would reputedly invite spirits to possess them, the better to share their knowledge, power or whatever else), as well as connecting to many modern spiritualist ideas of multiple/infinite realities and communicating with other realms and planes. If an infinite universe were to exist, by definition it would have to encompass every situation and scenario that is possible within whatever rules the universe runs on (and realistically an infinite universe couldn't have rules, it would literally have to encompass *everything*, but a more likely possibility is a transfinite universe - not infinite, but vast enough that we cannot possibly comprehend its scope or measure it with any calculating device). Therefore, it would not be the case that the world of Anne of Green Gables, or Rurouni Kenshin, or Suikoden, may
exist; it would have
to exist on some plane, world or dimension, and not just one but incalculable numbers of them, to encompass every possible eventuality. Within the concept of an infinite universe, there is a world identical to this one in every way, except for the fact that I stopped typing this five seconds ago and decided to actually do some college work. There is another world identical to this one in every way, except for the fact that an ant chose to walk one step left instead of one step right on May 23rd, 1976. There is a world whose only difference from this one is that, in between my typing "this" and "one", a four-year-old child in New Orleans thought of the word "bee" instead of the word "horse". For every possible alternate course of events, even as unimaginably minor as one molecule of air moving 0.0000000000000001mm in another direction, there would have to be another plane of existence where that event actually took place; and in conjunction with the "butterfly effect", where one flap of a butterfly's wings in Tanzania can result in a tidal wave off the east coast of Japan or a joke 5000 miles across the globe, every one of these unimaginably minor happenings would in turn have the potential to bring about an unimaginable number of changes, which would cause the branching off of an equally unimaginable number of parallel dimensions. And then, of course, you would get to worlds where so many things were so far removed from what we experience now that you would have the world of Noir, and the world of Sandman, and the world of the Matrix (where, of course, all of this is just artificially-generated ones and zeros. Of course, all of this that you're reading now is
just artificially-generated ones and zeros, but that's beside the point.) And those
worlds would have their unimaginable numbers of branchings-off due to unimaginably minor events, and what you'd end up with is a trillion billion dimensions with Kirika in, more than enough for everyone on this planet and many other planets besides to connect with a unique version of her if the gateway were to be opened. How in fact this opening of a gateway would occur is another debatable point; at least in the case of SoulBonding, the likely explanation is that the connection in this world with an on-screen/in-book scenario that matches up closely enough to that real, existing world is what causes the dimensional rift, and allows the two worlds to connect. Of course, if that TV series or book or play was in fact inspired, not by sheer imagination but by the author's spiritual connection to one of these alternate planes in the first place, then the link would already be there; and while the one particular "world-version" that the author connected with would already have a link to that person, there'd be this multitude of near-identical world-versions running alongside it, through which we ourselves could reach out to our "own" personal Sanosuke or Frodo Baggins.
This concept has been moderately well-received in fiction circles, even so far as to see it used on Star Trek; the idea that when we write or create fiction ideas, we do not in fact "imagine" these stories and scenarios but in fact channel them from alternate realities, where such things actually exist. It's also a popular belief for SBs themselves to hold; that they came to this world through a door or portal, or that the author/fan stumbled across their world and forged a connection. Of course, some people reject this idea utterly on the grounds that it renders the concept of imagination meaningless; if everything we "think up" exists somewhere else, and we are not really thinking it up but channeling it from other dimensions, then there is no such thing as imagination, and we create nothing that does not already exist. Obviously, while this belief works for some it does not for others, and thus, there is a second theory.
The concept behind this is that SoulBonds are real and do exist on such alternate planes, but that these planes are in fact created by us - by the depth of our own imagination of them, belief in them, and love for them. When we "latch onto" a character that we truly connect with in whatever respect, who sings to our hearts enough to inspire such powerful emotions as joy, despair and love within us, the sheer force of such "thought-energy" is enough to birth an entity on some non-corporeal plane. With enough energy poured into it, this entity can move from being a two-dimensional shell that simply mimics the character it resembles, to a living, thinking, feeling lifeform with its own will, its own mind, its own capacity to think and feel. The maxim of this theory is "if you believe it, it is real" - a concept found particularly in much classic and modern children's literature, such as Peter Pan (where a fairy died for every child who didn't believe, and the power to revive Tinkerbell lay with the beliefs of children) and the Neverending Story (where the entire world of Fantastica/Fantasia was born and shaped from the dreams of physical-world people). This theory also has its own basis in ancient spiritualities; there is a belief in some Eastern religions, such as Tibetan Buddhism, that people can create and shape "thought-forms" that take on a spirit-realm life of their own as animals, mythological creatures, or other people. Additionally, there is the traditional Japanese belief that runs through many of the culture's stories; that a doll, if truly loved and cared for as a person, will develop a soul of its own. Obviously, then, the question of how the connection between you and the spirit-world person formed isn't there; you were the one who gave them life, therefore they are linked to you, your soul, and your imagination.
This theory tends to view these "imaginatively-created people" in terms of "archetypes"; the original character, as existing in the story itself, is the archetype, the "parent-entity" which forms the basis for all subsequent "reality-versions" thereof. The archetype is a mould from which each person's individual interpretation of that character is cast, a "master copy" if you will; while in essence everyone is presented with the same (or a near-identical) casting, it's their choice to take that character from the limited existence that they currently have as a mere reproduction, and shape them in their own hands to give them life and personality. Some people never take their model out of the box; they never connect with them enough to envision them as anything other than a doll on a shelf. Others, however, take their characters "out of the box", and add detailing, change little things about them, flesh out their histories and personalities, give them new changes of clothes and new situations and experiences to try out, and bring them to life. Simultaneously, there is a sweet idea that the more the archetype-mould is used with love and care, to create reality-versions that will be truly appreciated and given life, the stronger it becomes in itself, as an entity; but when the mould is used thoughtlessly and haphazardly to create inferior, half-realised clones, it becomes weakened.
Obviously, we can't ever truly know where SoulBonds come from; we can only theorise about their origins, and in that, really, they are no different from any of us. How is any spirit brought into this world; dreamed up by a creative god, by infusion of life-essence into a biological shell, by sheer random chance? All that can be ascertained is that SoulBonds, in their capacity for individual thought, action, belief and feeling, are real, and have life. And sometimes, maybe that's all we need to know; but, curious creatures that we are, that's never something that will stop us from searching.